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The Traffic Police Matatu Uniform Act

A lot has changed along Tom Mboya street in downtown Nairobi. It's not the hawkers who occupy the pavement and who will pick up a quarrel with you if you stand in front of their wares showing no intent to purchase them. It does not occur to them that you have the right to be on the pavement Its even worse when you step their wares when trying to avoid one of those Nairobi Jay Walkers. One thing about hawkers though, don't purchase any clothing item at night. You will end up with a pink sweater, like the one am wearing as I type this, while what you had intended was a beautiful cream one. Credit this to the yellow street lights , which if you forgot your science classes , produce other colors when mixed with actual colors.

The changes along Tom Mboya street also have nothing to do with it been a street where any Tom, Dick and Harry can try out their U turn and 3 point motoring skills. It's hard to cross this street as it is quite impossible to predict the general flow of traffic along the street.Motorists may be speeding along the wrong side of the road, driving along the middle bank that divides the lanes or doing illegal U turns and 3 point turns anywhere along the street.
Matatus
However, the changes have something to do with colours and matatus. A matatu, or those who aren't Kenyans or Ugandans are several seater vehicles that ply to and fro between two points picking and dropping passengers along the way. (P.S. I dont sit on the Oxford Dictionary committee). The change is in the colour of the matatus.

According to the police, it is a change they believe in. Before, depending on the competition , the number of youthful population of the destination and the amount of dispensable income for the destination served, some routes had matatus that were quite colourful consisting several colours , graffiti and vehicle body modification. Routes 58 (BuruBuru), 9 (Eastleigh), 111 (Ngong) and 23 (Outering) were known or their colourful matatus , graced with high power music systems, several video screens and they were all the rage with the youth. Youth boarded matatus just for the entertainment taking a round trip(or even several), and some even waited hours on end for specific matatus. There was(is) even a Facebook group and the followers even knew which matatus were off the road or repairs.

But that was until the Nairobi Traffic Department of the Kenya Police decided to bring their school system thinking into the system. The police decided that the bribes they take, their ill equipped traffic policemen who run after rule flouters with rubber batons, lack of a clear policy on traffic lights, fact that some matatus are owned & protected by police is not to blame for the unruliness on the road, especially from matatus.

Our very bright police officers have blamed it on the several colours painted on the matatus, and their music systems. A directive was then passed and enorced that all matatus have one colour and stop playing loud music.

As it defeats me how the police decided passengers cant choose matatus that fit their music tastes (from none to loud), the re-coloured single coloured matatus are now worse than ever. This single-colored, silent matatus now accomplish stunts that their multi-coloured , music playing counterparts were not known for.

A single coloured, silent matatu can now climb trees, drive in trenches, make multiple U and 3 point turns along any Nairobi street and drive on any side of the road as long as traffic is lesser on that side. If the sincle coloured, silent matatu encounters a rubber-batoned armed police officer, tie in the muddy seat belt as the matatu ramps up the pavement and even up stairs.

matatu's as they should look in the Traffic Police Uniform Act

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